5 Essentials to Building a Successful Patient Referral Program
You provide vital support to people with ASD. You offer treatment and recommendations, provide stewardship and a safe space for care. You offer support, with an array of options, to those with ASD. You improve the whole world of Autism. This often goes unseen and, the truth is: you need support, too.
There are many providers, programs and opportunities within the community to help give your ASD patient a well-rounded life while keeping you apprised of their treatment journey outside your office. Here are five essentials to recommending additional resources and treatment for your ASD:
1. Provider Trust
As you provide recommendations, what is your process for vetting the providers in your network? For example, sometimes children with ASD are left behind with low Medicaid rates. Some waiting lists are years long, and by that time, children are all grown up but without the skills to match. Not only concerns such as that, but does the program or provider have a solid reputation?
2. Shared Patient Progress
Gain access to knowledge of your patient and their progress outside your office with more viewpoints. Add this supplemental information to your progress notes to keep up with symptoms and growth. For example, you can better monitor the effectiveness of a patient's practice of a healthy coping mechanism for a change in routine.
Your progress notes, including the assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan, can help social groups, support networks and other resources to better align their care toward the individual with ASD.
3. Multi-Speciality Benefits
A 2017 Tel Aviv University study recently found that outdoor challenge-based interventions offer some relief in the severity of ASD symptoms. The research discovered that children with ASD experienced significant improvement in autistic mannerisms, social motivation and social cognition after participating in outdoor adventure activities. You can engage in conversation and activities with your patient in office, but such programs offer multi-speciality benefits that provide a well-rounded treatment plan that enriches the patient's life while helping them achieve progress.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is "no one standard treatment for autism." As each person with ASD differs in personality, interests and needs, so does the treatment plan. Symptoms can even vary extremely in twins with ASD. The therapy or intervention that works for one person with ASD won't work for another. However, most patients with ASD respond the best to highly specialized and structured programs. Many patients go on to progress rapidly in achieving clear and positive social exchanges, as well as other goals.
4. Social Opportunities
Humans are a social species that require connection for survival and evolution, but in a modern context, that includes personal growth and development. The world is more social than ever, even if that's behind a smartphone screen at times. Humans still need real facetime.
Social groups and social counseling sessions are available for patients with ASD at all ages, from elementary to adult. These services allow folks on the spectrum to claim their social independence. These groups provide a supportive, comfortable and consistent that encourages success in learning social skills and increasing behavioral and social awareness. Be sure to look for these traits in the programs that you vet.
What needs do your patient have? Are they applying to college or need more peer-based interaction? What kinds of social opportunities would you like to offer your patients on the spectrum?
5. Community Support
Though conversations surrounding autism have increased, many families and patients on the spectrum still feel the stigma of their diagnosis. No one wants their patient to feel invisible and without adequate resources in their community.
However, there are many resources in the community where those with ASD can feel more relaxed and understood while enjoying activities and milestones that "everyone else" does. Increasingly, many theaters offer sensory-friendly film nights and coffee shops offer designated quiet areas. Colleges hire personnel to work with those with ASD to make their academic journey feel less harrowing and more geared toward success.
More community spaces, such as grocery stores, places of worship and recreation centers, hold Awareness Days as an opportunity for self-education and public education. With more encouragement, education and advocacy, successful community integration is more than possible with community support.
In fact, there are over 100 Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) in the U.S. and Territories that work with families from birth to age 26. These centers assist parents with effective participation in their children's development and education. CPRCs also partner with policy-makers and professionals to improve life outcomes for children with ASD and other challenges.
Also, state agencies and councils exist as legal entities charged with protecting and advocating for those with ASD and other developmental disorders or disabilities. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the roles of these agencies are:
Recommendations matter in clinical practice. In fact, they are intrinsic in their timeliness and earnestness to be an active part of a patient's life.
Partner with us to offer your services or join our staff at our Autism Resource Center in San Diego by searching our career opportunities and reach out with any questions or ideas. We'd love to hear what you have to say.